On Tuesday, a federal jury found CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart liable for helping spread the opioid crisis. This decision can potentially lead to greater legal repercussions. Many similar lawsuits are also moving up in courts across the US.
Chain Pharmacies Contributing To Opioid Crisis
The federal jury concluded that the big three pharmacies contributed to the opioid crisis in Lake and Trumbull counties in Ohio.
These pharmacies sold and dispensed prescription pain pills in huge quantities. However, many of these pills ended up on the black market.
Meanwhile, experts expect the verdict to create huge repercussions around the country. Other plaintiffs from all over America filed similar lawsuits against the three pharmacies.
A separate legal process will now determine how much will each company pay to help address the crisis. Many see the damages to run into billions of dollars.
In a statement, Lake and Turnbull attorneys who filed the federal lawsuit hailed the decision as a milestone victory. They praised the efforts to hold pharmacies accountable for the addiction problem that claimed the lives of thousands of Americans.
“For decades, pharmacy chains have watched as the pills flowing out of their doors cause harm and failed to take action as required by federal law,” the attorneys said.
US District Judge Dan A. Polster in Cleveland will decide by April or May on how much damages will each county collect. Initially, estimates run to $1 billion each for Lake and Turnbull counties.
In contrast, Rite Aid and Giant Eagle, two other companies also hit with lawsuits, settled with both counties for undisclosed sums.
Pharmacies Insist They Did Nothing Wrong
Meanwhile, pharmacy chains insisted they did nothing wrong. They only dispensed pills for legitimate prescriptions issued by licensed health care providers.
In a statement, a Walmart spokesperson criticized the handling of the trial. Polster also managed many of the previous opioid litigation.
Walmart said they will appeal the “flawed” verdict. The statement also said that the decision was “a reflection of a trial that was engineered to favor the plaintiffs’ attorneys” unfairly. In addition, the trial featured “remarkable legal and factual mistakes.”
A spokesperson for CVS also promised an appeal. “We strongly disagree with the decision. Pharmacists fill legal prescriptions written by DEA-licensed doctors who prescribe legal, FDA-approved substances to treat actual patients in need,” CVS said in a statement.
Walgreens also disagreed with the verdict. A company spokesperson described the verdict as disappointing. “The facts and the law do not support the verdict.
We believe the trial court committed significant legal errors in allowing the case to go before a jury,” the Walgreens statement said.
Opioid Crisis Cases Across States Produce Mixed Results
The timing of the federal jury verdict coincided with recent legal roadblocks. These held up lawsuits filed against other corporations in other states.
Earlier this month, Oklahoma’s Supreme Court overturned a ruling against Johnson & Johnson worth $460 million. The lawsuit also utilized the same “public nuisance” legal argument.
Additionally, a California judge also declined to hold drug companies accountable for any role in spurring the opioid crisis in local communities. However, opioid lawsuits continue to progress in New York and Washington states.
Watch the Associated Press video reporting that a jury decided that pharmacies are responsible for the opioid crisis:
Do you agree that pharmacies such as CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart should pay for damages caused by the opioid crisis? Who else should be responsible for the situation?
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